Brian Lara 375 – Rules the World with Chanceless Innings at St John’s Antigua 18, April 1994 Test in West Indies against England stunned the cricketing world. The most romantic of all Test cricket records, the highest individual Test score, fell to Brian Lara here at 11.45 am just 20 minutes before lunch and two weeks short of his 25th birthday. Brian Lara Rules the World with Chanceless 375 against England.
He began the day on 320 not out and if for the first time his innings contained a blemish or two as the moment of destiny drew closer, it remained chanceless until, all the passion spent, he edged a drive in the last over before lunch and allowed Jack Russell the chance to take a good left-handed catch. He had been battling for 12 hours and 46 minutes since the seventh over of the match with quite wonderful skill, concentration, and aggression which was always measured.
The match had until that moment been subordinated to the record and the England team seemed to have played an almost incidental part in it. But though they made Lara work hard to surpass Gary Sobers’ 365 at Kingston in 1958, they were generous when he made it, pivoting on his back foot to hit a resounding hook off Chris Lewis which sent the ball scudding to the mid-wicket boundary for his 44th four.
A mass invasion of the field followed, almost inevitably, during which it was not quite evident whether some 100 Lara is hugged by Warwick- shire colleague Keith Piper after reaching 501 not out Fifth Test Third day: police were more concerned to protect Lara or congratulate him themselves. The pitch got something of a trampling but it was still playing exceptionally well as Mike Atherton led England’s battle to score 394 to avoid the follow-on.
Gary Sobers was in the West Indies dressing room yesterday to share the moment of triumph and came onto the field immediately afterward to embrace Lara. He said: “I don’t think a better batsman could have broken the record. It’s a joy to watch a chap like that bat.”
Brian Lara batted for more than an hour for his first 10 runs and 50 minutes for his last 20. In between, he scored at the rate of almost a run-a-ball. His progress yesterday was in ally less serene than it had been to his triple hundred the day before. Angus Fraser beat him with a near Yorker and then at 347 got the ball to lift and leave him.
It was the first time in the innings that he had been genuinely troubled. The brief signs of human frailty only added to the already piquant tension around a packed ground. The crowd gasped as twice his inside edge was passed by Lewis but somehow the ball missed the wicket.
There are many good Test batsmen; a few great ones. Perhaps once in a cricketing generation, there are also champions, players so superior to the rest that their contemporaries can only marvel. This winter season, and especially these last few days in Antigua, Lara has assumed the mantle first worn by George Headley and then passed on through the three Ws to Sobers and Richards.
Brian Lara is that rare thing, a genius making the most of his gift. Technically his innings were as close to perfection as makes no difference, the most flawless display of batting since Sunil Gavaskar’s 221 at the Oval in 1979. His strokes spanned 360 degrees, from the latest of cuts to the finest of leg glances. With a high back-lift and high hands, he hits the ball uncommonly hard.
Life will never be so simple again for the little, broad-shouldered fellow brought up at Santa Cruz in Trinidad, but we know already that he will carry his greatness with dignity and a smile. As a batsman, all he does now will be judged by the yardstick of this monumental innings. Almost incidentally, the Test was drawn.